Reducing Fires through Code Enforcement how Green is it?
It seems that current trends from the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) to initiatives by the National Association of Home Builders, green construction and green building is a hot topic. Many times concerns of fire safety and green construction techniques which have a focus on fire safety are overlooked.
Picture a home on fire and the destruction that occurs. The fire produces products of combustion that pollute our air to the loss of construction materials that now will require demolition and reconstruction. Its seems on first blush the use of sprinkler systems including residential sprinklers can be the most green item installed in a home or commercial business, but its “green” credits can be quickly overlooked when considered an option.
The National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) has launched a web site, Bridging the Gap, that will bring together the complex issues relating to building in an environmentally sensitive manner while still meeting the overriding needs of fire safety for the occupants and emergency responders. Funded by a Department of Homeland Security Fire Prevention and Safety Grant, this project will look at where fire safety concerns coincide with the rapidly growing field of green buildings.
“It is important that the fire service help facilitate the growing trend toward green construction,” said NASFM President Alan Shuman. “At the same time, there are definite knowledge gaps among fire service officials regarding how to recognize green buildings, as well as how to review plans, issue permits and safely fight fires in structures that may feature unconventional designs and systems.”
The growing web site is designed as a community where participants can contribute to the knowledge base and exchange information and experiences. It includes sections focusing on areas such as alternative fuels, building materials and construction, roofs, water conservation and much more. Guiding the project is a national Advisory Working Group of professionals drawn from a number of different fields relating to building and fire safety.
“This site will evolve and grow over time,” explained Karen Deppa, NASFM project manager. “The key is for visitors to the site to share information as well as obtain it. We hope that sections such as the Discussion Forum will foster this type of participation.”
Chief Shuman also hopes that NASFM’s project will lead to a cultural shift in how fire prevention and protection are viewed in the context of environmental sustainability. “When you think about the threat that a fire represents not only to lives, but also to the environment,” he said, “It becomes clear that every fire that is prevented or quickly suppressed protects our natural resources. Fire Safety is a very Green concept.”
Where does fire safety and green construction meet in your community?